DORCHESTER Town chairman Scott Symes has announced his decision to step down at the end of the 2023/24 season.

Symes vacates the role in line with the five-year plan first envisioned and activated when he succeeded Matt Lucas in 2019.

Like Lucas when he unveiled his intention to quit, no immediate successor is in the pipeline.

Symes has also timed his announcement with the Magpies’ AGM looming on Wednesday (6.30pm).

READ MORE: When Scott Symes took over as Dorchester Town chairman

Speaking to Dorchester’s media team, Symes admitted it is with a “heavy heart” that he steps down at the Avenue Stadium.

He said: "First and foremost, when you take on something such as chairman of a community based owned club you have to think about timelines, and I did come in with a vision, and then set a business plan against that vision, which was a five-year plan, and that five years is coming to an end.

"The questions I've asked myself is has that five-year plan been achieved?
“And, although I'd love to have finished a little bit further up the table last year and this year we're very positive about where we can get with the performance of the first team, everything that I came in and set myself and set the club with that vision and plan, we've achieved it.

"But probably the biggest driver is my work situation outside of being chairman of the football club will change quite significantly early next year. So, I won’t be able to commit the time to football club that I have done and I need a clear head and a clear diary really in terms of what my work’s going to look like, because it is probably going to involve a fair bit of travel and so forth.

"Those are the main reasons, with a bit of a heavy heart, but I'm really proud of what myself, the volunteers and the other board members that I've worked with have achieved over the last five years."

Speaking further on the last five years, Symes said: "I'm really proud of what the whole group down here that I've worked with have done. It's been a massive team effort. You know the chairman is one position but, in a community club, volunteers are as important as a chairman sometimes to actually keep the club moving forward, and that's probably the biggest thing is how far forward we've come from where the club was five years ago.

"The development pathway that we've implemented with our under-18s and under-23s has been outstanding. A massive thanks to Brian Churchill, Craig Robinson, John Cook and a few others, and all the first-team managers as well who really bought into that, because it's so important that a football club at this level has that.

“What those teams have achieved over the last two, three seasons has been nothing short of a miracle in terms of the two trebles last year, it was just fantastic.

"That’s been really key and then those local players, who've come through that, then given the opportunity to play and experience Southern League football. Again, as a football club, and I've been watching this football club for many, many years, it has been in the past so rare for local lads to actually get onto that pitch and I think we've done that, which again has just enhanced the whole point of the football club as a community-owned club, so I'm really, really pleased with that.

"Five years ago, I think the SAG (Safety Advisory Group) were just about ready to shut us down. We had so many renovations that needed doing. I think it was coming up to 30 years the stadium had been open - there had been a few renovations, but you know hardly a paintbrush had been picked up in those 30 years. So, the whole stadium infrastructure was in desperate need of renovation. The new seats, the renovation of certain areas around the ground and all of those things that are now in a really good place.

"I think it's a very different place when you come down now to experience and watch a football match. I think our average crowds last year were well up and we're seeing a lot more children down here and a lot more local people coming down, so that's been fantastic because that was again one of the key pillars of the plan, really.

"The first team, which is a massive part of having a football club at this level, I think like I said previously, I'd love to have been a bit higher last year but Glenn, Woodsy, Churchy, Dodge and everyone involved did a fantastic job last season.

“I think just the culture, that's always been the challenge. You can change the personnel all you want, but if it's the same culture within that first team, you just don't get the results.

“That's what was achieved last season, and which again gave the whole club a different vibe and now Tom (Killick) has come in, that's only going to enhance that now.

“We can see that within the performances over the last few games where we've been at home, we're really starting to get a feel that we can go toe-to-toe with anyone in this league.

"Then, the finances. Finance is always difficult, so you have to have a vision and a plan of how financially the club can work. You've got to write that down and you've got to explain that to people, and then you've got to live it and get people around you who can support you and deliver that.

“Luckily, Lee (Loder) has been my vice-chairman and the rest of the board, we all get that now. I think if you speak to members of the board who were here previously, board meetings are very different now as to what they were six years ago, no detriment to previous people, but they are action orientated, they're focused on the really important things that need to get the football club to keep going week on week on week.

“I'm really pleased with how that is because whoever comes in to take over from me, they can see what needs to happen every week, they can see what finances need to come in and what needs to be paid and it's clear, so it gives them a good place to start."

On the timing of the announcement, Symes added: "I think first of all with the AGM, it gives our members who attend the AGM a chance to have to think about any questions they may have on this matter.

"Then going forward and over the remainder of the season, it gives us all time and other people that may show an interest that we've got plenty of time to talk about what goes on and what needs to be done and all of those things that go with being a chairman of a football club.

“It gives other board members a chance to have a think. They might know people that might want to stand up and give it a crack.

"I think what is important is that it is the right person.

“I'm a people manager within my day job, but I underestimated the sort of multi factual management skills you have to have to be the chairman of a football club.

“It’s dependent, I mean it changes because then some board members come on board and they've got a stronger skill set in certain things and it's nice then because that can be delegated. It's something that if people take on, it's a voluntary role. There is a good amount of time that you need to spend doing it.

"Again, all I would say is if somebody has run a successful business out there, that's the sort of people you need, a good people manager, somebody who understands the ebb and flow of P&Ls (profit and loss statements) and businesses and people.

“So, it will give us a good amount of time to really help anyone who’s interested to bed in and see what it's like.”

Symes also confirmed his future involvement at the Avenue in a capacity yet to be finalised.

He added: "The other thing is I will still volunteer. What I have learned over the last four or five years is this place will not function without people who volunteer their time, so as much as I can give from a voluntary perspective I still will.

“I'm not ruling out that I still would be involved from a board level, but it wouldn't be as chairman, it would be in another capacity. So, 100 per cent I'm not going anywhere and I'll still be around the football club, I'll still probably be down on Saturday mornings cleaning leaves up before games and so forth. I don't think I'll ever not be involved from a volunteer perspective."‍

On the pitch, Dorchester visit Salisbury in league action on Saturday (3pm).